Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The line between early and late.

I walked outside of my second story apartment tonight to find that the normally pitch black, cutout silhouette of the San Rafael hills that looms over the town was almost imperceptible. Northern California occasionally sucumbs to the wildfire season as well, and the winds have brought a thick layer of smoke across the north bay for the past couple days. It's disgusting and ugly during the day, but the smoky smell mixed with the night air really appeals to me- possibly because the burning smell at night reminds me of a fireplace.

I've recently found myself skirting the line between agnosticism and atheism. I think I'm both too smart to comitt fully to a god belief, as well as too whimsical to dismiss it, but as political climates fluctuate, the balance tilts. I'd probably be more inclined to a spiritual lifestyle in Barack Obama's america than John McCain's, even though I think it might be of more benefit in the latter case.

I recently recalled an interview that Fox News' chief antagonist Bill O'Reilly did with Richard Dawkins. To call it an interview is being a little coy, though, unless watching Bill O'Reilly talk smugly to himself and fail to register any irony or mental awareness qualifies as an interview. In any case, at one point O'Reilly tells Dawkins that he can't prove to him that god doesn't exist, and Dawkins' reply is that O'Reilly similarly couldn't prove that Zeus doesn't exist or Apollo doesn't exist, the implication being that O'Reilly had no argument in favor of Judeo-Christianity that you couldn't cut and paste in another religion for.

This got me to thinking... when someone talks about Zeus or Apollo nowadays, it is typically in conjunction with the label "greek mythology." I was taught about such mythology as young as twelve in my middle school literature class. But the leaps of faith that those tales ask me to make from a religious standpoint are no greater than Christianity; essentially acts of magic and nature that are explained by the presence of divinity. So why is it that I'm taught about a previous civilization's religious structure with the fact that it's mere myth and legend stated up front? Is it simply because those religious beliefs aren't reflected in today's society? If not, why would I not then be free to lecture a class about the bible as a work of historical fiction? The answer is pretty obvious; people would be outraged (although I'd probably started scoring some counter-culture women that way, and they know how to have fun). Organized religions tend to have spiritual blind spots that rub uncomfortably against societal blind spots, until you have oozing, raw sores that start to whip up fervor. And I'm becoming more and more humorless by the moment.

Figured I'd go out with a poem... I wrote this last year.


in crooked houses by crooked creeks
where silent mothers kiss their babies cheeks
its got to be warm in there
candlelight drenching the ground outside
a comfort by silhouette
finding yourself at night
too restless to grab a bite
or fight or spit or spin and dash
no people to see
no parties to crash
a subdued singsong soul lacking in support
both moral and emotional
can be drawn to scale
taken apart up and down
and reassembled in traditional mosaic style
but be no more logical than it was before
lying on the ground staring straight
up up up
not a star in the sky
too embarrassed to knock on the door
worried that they wouldn't care
that you're stuck in the cold
and its got to be warm in there

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What's the point?

That is to say, why even bother getting excited about Chris Paul, Steve Nash, or Baron Davis when I know that come Finals time all I'll be hearing is announcers gush over what a gutsy pro Derek Fisher is? I might be more sick of Derek Fisher than any basketball player still in the league, which is saying a lot while Jason Kidd is still playing. And, for the record, no matter what anyone tells you, Derek Fisher is NOT a great shooter. A cursory glance at his career averages show that he is a decent three point shooter, but an abysmal shooter by field goal percentage. He also looks like the kind of guy who's always going to clubs but is too old to do so smoothly. Just sayin', is all.

I rode my bike to and from my house a couple days ago. I must say, to whoever coined the expression about never forgetting how to ride a bike... there is a bit of a rust to shake off, you know? I have little to no idea how I'm supposed to work the gears on it, and I'm sure I looked incredibly stupid swerving unsteadily down the road at night, but it rides well. I'm pleased with it.

I applied for a part time job at a movie theater a couple weeks ago. I wanted to work twenty hours a week or so, just make some money to cover bills and maybe save a few hundred after a little while. The theater was visibly desperate and understaffed, and I had three years of consistant experience working cash registers, including an assistant manager credit from 24 Hour Fitness that was awarded to me based on my "excellent customer service abilities." Those abilities speak to my skill as a showman, I guess, because I absolutely hated it whenever any of those punks would waste my time complaining about the bathrooms or locker rooms being dirty. I ain't the fuckin' janitor; not for eight bucks an hour. If it's not over ten I reserve the right to think ill of the people I interact with.

Anyways, the theater turned me down, which was surprising enough that it got me thinking about past jobs that had been refused to me, and I began to ponder whether I had any desire to function in the sort of system in which I'm deemed unsuitable to tear tickets at a theater three days a week.

I went to Guerneville a couple days ago to hobknob with a friend of mine who was staying out there with her sister. I woke up feeling pretty sick, but by virtue of my general overconfidence about my health, I decided to go anyways. By the time I was ten minutes from Guerneville I began to reflect on what a bad choice it had been, as the muggy humidity mixed with the vegetation around the Russian River was wreaking havoc on my sinuses. I took a decongestant when I arrived, but quickly developed a headache thanks in large part to the pastime of choice for my friend that day; watching trees get chainsawed and toppled. While it was pretty impressive to watch (as I'd never seen a tree fall over before), the impact of the largest tree triggered an occasionally pulsing pain in my forehead.

We went to the beach where I ended up lying under some brush cover sweating and trying to sleep while the others went swimming in the river. I managed to doze for five minutes or so before realizing there were ants crawling all around me, and thus likely on me. I felt like I was going to vomit and pass out all at once, a feeling I'm familiar with from my iron-deficiency days. I struggled to stay coherent and conscious while listening to a David Sedaris story being read aloud. It was about his relationship with a linguistics teacher he'd had in school to help with his lisp. I'm sure it was a good story, and I could tell it was well written, but all I thought at the time was "man, fuck David Sedaris. I'd rather sit around in some speech class than be dying on this godforsaken patch of bug infested sand, that fucking prick."

We made our way back to the house soon after that, at which point I staggered into the bathroom, splashed and rubbed water all over my face for about five minutes, then sprawled out on a guest couch/bed and fell asleep. When I woke up I felt more or less fine, which shocked me, although I did managed to sprain my ankle on the way down the stairs as I left, just to round out the trip. Let it be known that I realize this story sounds whiny to the extreme, and it's certainly true that it wasn't that bad in the cosmic scheme of things. But in the moment, I was pretty miserable and my brain felt like a hairtrigger pistol that was going to blast somebody. I don't doubt that having a more experienced or broader perspective on things would've helped, and I normally do have a pretty mature, accepting perspective. The only thing that can really malfunction it is when I'm sick with something fleeting, minor, or casually annoying. The few times I've been really ragged I've always been very quiet and calm. It's somehow the little things that wear my patience out the quickest.

I plan to attend a concert being put on by my dear friend Carla Zilbersmith tomorrow night- or, rather, tonight, I guess. June 14th at 8 PM in Berkeley, there's a post on her blog with the info that presently eludes me- just click the "carlamuses" link on the sidebar, under "those who demand your attention." Also, remember, it's really more me demanding you pay those links attention than it is them demanding it, so don't hold it against them, ne? I'm the asshole here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Filthy human garbage.

I haven't showered in almost four days. As somebody who normally showers every day, this is taking its toll on my state of mind. I could also stand to get a haircut. There's plenty of things I need to do to re-groom myself in the coming days.

I finally got my bicycle fixed. It's a pretty durable mountain bike I got in middle school, but I lived in East Corte Madera in those days, which is sadly disconnected from much of Larkspur, San Rafael, and Mill Valley (unless you take the long route through Corte Madera proper, then either down Magnolia into Larkspur/San Anselmo/San Rafael or over the hills into Mill Valley) so I never rode it much. Now that I've recently come into a car, but am still a bit strapped for cash, I figure to bike anywhere if it's a reasonable trip. The driving is a little steep.

I'm wearing a pair of kelly green Converse sneakers right now; I wore them during the first game of the NBA Finals without realizing it, but now I figure I may as well keep it up, provided the Celtics keep winning. I view this as nothing less than a battle of Star Wars style unsubtlety, pretty much good versus evil.

A few repetitive bars of trance-y techno have begun to undulate their way through my living room window. It sounds like my downstair neighbor is listening to it. He's an odd fellow, a man in his mid-thirties who lives with a woman much older. He's got a shaved bald head and wears a cowboy hat when he smokes outside. My former roommate once came home once to find this fellow washing his (my roommate's) windshield. "It looked a little dirty! I worry about you sometimes," was the reply to the obvious question.

I recently found my old collection of Tintin comics from when I was a kid. I decided to read one, The Blue Lotus, and I was shocked at how riddled with racial stereotypes/commentaries some of those books are. I feel a little cheated that nobody explained that stuff to me. It's a similar feeling to the one I get when I think about my elementary school. The entire fourth-grade year we did nothing but talk about the gold rush, the wild west, and rugged frontiersman. Obviously, everything we were told was riddled with holes to cover up all the racism, corpses, and general bloodiness. So I just have to relearn everything later? Fuck that. If you feel your only option is to lie to a kid, I think you should just remain silent til you're able to be truthful. Children have a tremendous ability to comprehend and cope with things, but it seems risky to raise them as if everything's jolly and then spring the darkness on them at sixteen, when things start to seem dark anyways.

I'm pretty fuckin' hungry, I got to say. Whatever shall I do?